Warren Lotas has announced he won't fulfill deliveries on the bootleg Pigeon Dunk central to a lawsuit filed against him by Nike. As a replacement for the orders already submitted for both the Pigeon Dunk and the Chanclas similar to the Stüssy "Cherry" Dunk, Lotas is offering a new "Chainsaw" sneaker that is more noticeably different than the Dunk Low silhouette. Those who don't want the replacement shoe will also have the option of a refund.
"We tried to reach an early resolution with Nike and basically complied with everything they wanted, but we believe they are making unnecessary demands in order to intimidate other small businesses from exercising their creative freedom in the future," Lotas said in an Instagram post announcing the replacement sneaker. "Look at it closely. Regardless of our actions, we believe NIKE’s claims, such as supposedly owning color combinations and functional, run-of-the-mill design elements, hurt everyone if we don’t push back."
Nike cracks down — Near carbon copies of existing Nike sneakers made by independent designers such as Lotas and I Never Heard of You have become increasingly popular this year. As a response to Lotas' Pigeon Dunk, which was made in collaboration with Jeff Staple, Nike filed a suit against Lotas earlier this month claiming his designs "are not legitimate customizations, they are illegal fakes."
As the case developed, Nike sought to block Lotas from making deliveries on the Pigeon Dunk that had been placed in September and were scheduled to begin in December. The footwear giant also wanted to prevent Lotas from releasing any recreations of its shoes in the future. As of now, the state of the lawsuit is unclear — even if Lotas has stood down on his promise to go forward with deliveries.
Nike claimed "trademark and anti-dilution" in the suit filed to a California federal court and asserted its right to "its iconic sneaker designs, and its intellectual property in those designs, by rooting-out bad actors that undermine the DNA of sneaker culture by promoting and selling fakes."
Had Lotas gone through with the delivery of his shoes, Nike says it would "lose control over its hard-earned reputation and the goodwill [that it] has spent decades building."
Lotas' future — In addition to the replacement "Reaper," Lotas shared on Instagram another version that'll eventually go up for sale as an indication of his plans for the future. While still bearing some similarities to the Dunk Low, the new silhouette seems to make enough changes to the design to avoid any further litigation.
His Jason Voorhees' inspired Swoosh has been replaced by a much thicker swatch of leather bearing the image of a skull, and almost all of the lines of the upper have been altered. The end product is... not great, showing just how hard it is to create an appealing sneaker from scratch.
It'll be interesting to see if Lotas remains as popular now that he can't crib Nike's designs as closely. Perhaps he'll receive continued support as a small business — and at the very least, his custom jerseys and original T-shirts are much less impeachable.